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Suu Kyi's agitation casts shadow ov

Suu Kyi's agitation casts shadow over Indo-Myanmar talks

The Hindustan Times (New Delhi)
August 30, 2000

New Delhi, August 29: The Miming of the Indo-Myanmarese bilateral
meetings could not have been more inconvenient for India.

Home Secretary Kamal Pande today reached Yangon to hold talks with his
counterpart in the military junta at the same time as Nobel Peace prize
wining pro-democracy activist Au San Suu Kyi's third Mahatma Gndhi style
satyagraha reaches its peak.

External Affairs Ministry spokesman R.S.  Jassal tried to explain the
necessity of the meeting in the context of its "usefulness as a
mechanism for peace" along the border of the two countries.

The spokesman said the bilateral talks are held annually under a
memorandum of understanding which dates back to 1997. "The objective of
these meetings is to maintain tranquility along the border and the
prevention of insurgency," he said.

Asked to comment on the ongoing political stand-off between the military
government and the Suu Kyi-led National League for Democracy (NLD), Mr
Jassal said that "the Government of India hopes there will be a peaceful
solution". For the past five days, Ms Suu Kyi has been holding a sit-in
against the junta in the Yangon suburb of Dala after the military
blocked her access to the countryside where she was planning to hold

This is the second time she has staged such a demonstration. In 1988,
she stayed in her car for two prolonged stints.

External Affairs Ministry sources say that New Delhi believes in a
policy of non-interference in the internal affairs of Myanmar, even
though Ms Suu Kyi enjoys wide sympathy in the Indian government circles.

India is keen to do business with the military rulers of Myanmar and
during the Asean Regional Conference meeting in Bangkok last month, a
Gango-Mekong Swarnabhoomi project was conceived for development of
infrastructure projects.

Ms Suu Kyi, daughter of nationalist leader General Aung San, won 82 per
cent of the vote in the country's national elections in 1990, despite
being under house arrest. But the regime did not relinquish power.

India, despite being one of the convenors of the Concert of Democracies
established in Warsaw last month, finds it hard to justify its
appeasement of the military dictators in Yangon.

Not only does India recognise the military government, it also shares
plank with it in ASEAN and the recently formed BIMST forum.

Simultaneously, India continues to demand the restoration of the elected
regime of deposed Prime Minister Mahendra Chaudhry in Fiji. India has
also suspended the South Asia Association for Regional Co-operation on
the grounds of "political instability" in Pakistan following the October
1999 coup.